Country Living Series

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Preparedness 101 - #11 - Here comes the wheat!

We have neighbors on two sides of us who are LDS (Mormon). We're not Mormon but I like having Mormon neighbors because they take preparedness seriously (it's part of their church teachings, apparently).

That's why the LDS church runs regional "canneries" where church members can work shifts and purchase bulk foods for a decent price. They're also generous about allowing non-Mormons to buy foods through them as long as an LDS member comes along for the ride. A few months ago I purchased 50 lbs of high-quality powdered milk through the cannery in Spokane, and I wanted to get about 300 lbs of wheat as well.

This morning a neighbor had a cannery appointment and asked me if I wanted her to pick up the wheat for me. You bet! So this afternoon she brought in 300 lbs of hard red wheat (used for breadmaking) in 25 lb sacks. The total cost was $76.

Now 300 lbs of wheat would be barely enough to last us a year, especially since I do a lot of baking. I already have about 200 lbs of flour bucketed up (which I regularly cycle through and replace, because flour doesn't have a long shelf life). But wheat will last just about forever if it's dry and doesn't have weevils or other bugs in it. (They've found wheat in the tombs of the Pharaohs which was still edible and viable.)

I consider this batch of wheat to be emergency food and/or emergency seed wheat. I'll purchase treated seed wheat (it's treated with a fungicide) to plant in our wheat field this fall, but this bagged wheat can be a reserve stash for either eating or planting.

Before bucketing the wheat, I need to make sure there's no vermin that will munch through the kernels while in storage. Our chest freezer is pretty full, but there was enough room to squeeze two bags of wheat. There are a number of ways to deal with vermin in wheat, and freezing is one of them (food-grade diatomaceous earth is another; do NOT use swimming pool grade D.E.). I'll keep these bags in the freezer for about three days.

I just stuck the remainder of the wheat in the washroom for the time being. It can't stay here since we have both mice and moisture in the washroom, but it will be fine for a few days until all the wheat has been through the freezer.

Just one more step on the road toward preparedness.


  1. Your posts always get me to thinking, and thinking leads to asking questions. Sorry.

    If you buy the wheat in the winter, I presume wheat is available at that time of year, could you set it outdoors in the buckets (or an unheated storage van) until it freezes and thereby avoid having to use the freezer? In other words, let nature do the dirty work of killing off the weevils?

    My mother used to make barley soup and often it would have weevils in it. She would merely tell us there was no problem because the boiling killed them and any germs they may have had. Plus, they added protein. (Mom was a country girl who could always come up with answers to everything.) As it turned out, the weevils & larvae never hurt us. Now that guy, Andrew Zimmern of TV's Bizarre Foods, gets paid to eat bugs. Maybe my mom was ahead of her time!

  2. Absolutely. It's the freezing that counts. Putting it outside during icy weather would work perfectly.

    Uh, I'd rather not eat the weevils, dead or not...

  3. Save the Canning JarsJune 20, 2010 at 8:57 AM

    Even though Okla. is a wheat producing state, my family buys our wheat from Montana (higher protein, because in OK it rains at harvest). Your prices are much better than ours (because of your LDS connections). 300 lbs. here is $132 before tax. My wheat goes into the freezer for 1 week, then 3 days to return to room temp, then put into pails with an oxygen absorber, then down to the cellar on a wooden pallet (never in contact with the cement floor). Also have just started including spelt and kamut and oat groats.

    Check out this article about Venezuela soldiers going to the homes of the "wealthy" and taking the citizens food stock. Wow! Redistribution of the wealth...even if the wealth is food. If you have some of your wealth in food, then you are "hoarding" and it needs to be redistributed to the poor (much to their delight if food prices have risen 41%...why, you might even VOTE for
    someone who is SO KIND to do that for the poor...provided the food really gets to you and doesn't rot in a government warehouse.)
    What a mess! This is where socialism leads. And we think it won't or can't happen here.

  4. Good post. Wheat keeps real well if stored properly. We put close to a ton of hard winter wheat up in 5-gal plastic pails prior to Y2k. They were stacked to the ceiling on a couple pallets in our basement. Each bucket was lined with a mylar bag, then the wheat, followed by two oxygen absorber tablets. We then sealed the mylar with a hot iron. We have used that wheat now for over ten years. It is good as new and I recently replenished some of what we used. It's just good sense to "stock the larder," especially these days!

  5. You do stay busy Patrice. In a total blowout with the electrical grid going down for months, I would likely end up amoung the victims eventually. I also have noticed roaming around the west how prosperous and hard working the Mormons are.

  6. I have been following these posts about "preparedness" with some bewilderment. Bewildered firstly, that you should even think it necessary; or would make much difference if some economic disaster did occur. Secondly, as to how Christians reconcile such a preoccupation with Jesus's teachings. Didn't he say something like "Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself"?

  7. Do you know if this wheat is GMO?

    We're managing to avoid that sort of thing, and we're fortunate to live in an area where we can get locally grown/processed grass fed, hormone/antibiotic free beef, wild caught fish and clean, free-range chickens. We buy most of our produce from local organic growers and are able to access lots of wild fruit, berries and greens. I put up 10 qts. of wild mushrooms last week and 2 gallons of chicken-mushroom soup stock. Mmmm!

    I've heard stories from the old timers of folks here in America being busted for hoarding food during the depression, and my Ma tells a heart wrenching story of the time "the government men" came with rifles and a bulldozer and killed many of the family's cattle. They were doing it to keep the prices up. Her daddy, a Cherokee, did manage to hide a few head deep in the woods, but they reduced their herd by a lot. The kids were traumatized and never forgot it.

    I wonder if there'll come a time when the internet data mining being done today by the government will result in our private conversations like this one being screened for references to food storage.

    A McSp

  8. I understand the freezing kills weevils and other tiny creatures, but I would think that in this day and age, sorting/cleaning machines and human eyes would have sorted through the wheat. I guess I don't know about these things, but if I buy a bag of wheat at the store, I pretty much assume that there are no varmin in the food. I saw hard winter wheat at the URM but didn't know if the soft wheat next to it was better. Also, I have a coffee grinder (electric) but if I lost all source of power, I do not have a hand grinder.

    Also, who can tell me exactly how they use this wheat- from grinding to baking? Thanks!

  9. My son cured his Crohn's disease by going on a totally gluten free diet, so we won't be storing any wheat. We use rice pasta, rice flour, coconut flour, etc. I try to buy extra when I do the grocery shopping.

  10. Save the Canning JarsJune 20, 2010 at 8:07 PM

    Dear A McSp:

    I too have thought about our posts leading to a knock at the door from the government looking for a stash of food. But at our house they will be too late... as I have over 40 relatives within walking distance of my house and the extended family will have already cleaned out the pantry. I'm just doing what I can and praying I'll get raptured before it gets too ugly.
    And to Quedula: Joseph prepared in the 7 good years for the 7 bad years. Noah prepared. Of the 10 virgins, only 5 were prepared with oil in their lamps. I'm preparing too! It is staggering the number of people who are making physical preparations and checking their own standing with God.

    When I was purchasing my wood burning stove in December, the salesman was trying to steer me to purchase a fireplace insert that ran on electricity and I had to explain WHY I was choosing the non-electric path. When he saw this was from a survivalist standpoint, he said, "Lady, you ain't the only one!" So others have traveled this path as well (and still are on it). Thanks for all of the preparedness posts.

  11. quedula, he also tells us that Satan can quote scripture. Read Proverbs 27:12.

    Lorenzo Poe

  12. quedula,

    Jesus also told his followers to separate from the ungodly world system. When modern Christians live in total dependence on the industrial order to provide their basic needs (i.e., food) they become enslaved to that system and helpless without it. This is unscriptural and just plain foolish. Or so it would appear to me.

  13. Hurricane Juan left me with no power for a full week. Our neighbours were BBQ'ing their meat that would have gone bad from no refrigeration, which made for nice community coheseiveness at first (but it was only a week - people weren't bitter and hungry yet) I'd read by candle light at night (no tv, lights etc). Wake up to a windup alarm clock and no heat. It was an annoying week and it was only a WEEK, in a major city in Canada.
    It definitely made me think about the next hurricane or event that lasts longer than a week....

  14. Rose said...
    "...if I buy a bag of wheat at the store, I pretty much assume that there are no varmin in the food."

    And you'd be pretty much correct. But what you're freezing the wheat for are the EGGS (unless I'm mistaken!), which if not destroyed (by cold, for example) will later hatch.

    Rose said...
    "I saw hard winter wheat at the URM but didn't know if the soft wheat next to it was better."

    From my understanding hard wheat is used for bread, soft wheat is used for pastries.

    Rose said...
    "Also, who can tell me exactly how they use this wheat- from grinding to baking?"

    Take the wheat berries, stick 'em in your hand grinder, and grind them into flour (powder). Re-grind as necessary to get a fine flour. If you don't have a hand grinder use your imagination. Bottom line is, two hard things can grind a wheat berry into flour. Think mortar & pestle. But I would definitely look into buying a hand grinder.

    Anyway, now you've got flour. You use it just like store bought flour.

    Hope that helps. Maybe someone else more knowledgeable than myself can elaborate (if necessary).

    Take care.

  15. Your fears of GMO food are unfounded. We have all been eating GMO food for years (yes even you food nuts who shun almost everything) and there are no problems associated with GMO.

    Crohns diseases is not caused by your diet and cannot be "cured" by any diet. Your symptoms can indeed be migigated by a specific diet and if you have crohns disease this can be very helpful. But special diets won't prevent it.

  16. I already put the wheat into the buckets, ( did not know about freezing it), and have some packets of O2 absorbers, but am not sure how many to use for a 5 gall bucket. should I still try to freeze it or just add more O2 absorbers to each one? I appreciate all the info on this site!

  17. Whoever "Anonymous" is better check his/her facts. Have you not noticed that Americans are the sickest people in the world? I say you are kind of a wimp for not even putting your name on here.

  18. hi all, im Australia and have a question, just to clarify.. Is right to assume that weevil eggs are in all wheat and should freeze just in case? thanks so much

  19. Hi April:

    While weevil eggs may NOT be in all wheat, it's not a bad idea to ASSUME they are and treat the wheat accordingly. I can imagine nothing more depressing than opening up a bucket of wheat after a few years in storage only to find it had been eaten from within. Better safe than sorry, as the saying goes.

    - Patrice

  20. I see that Quedula's comment regarding Scripture was nearly a year ago, but, in the interest of preventing other visitors' confusion, I'd like to address it.

    Quedula commented: "as to how Christians reconcile such a preoccupation [preparedness] with Jesus's teachings. Didn't he say something like "Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself"?"

    The passage is Matthew 6:25-34, and begins with the word "Therefore". This means that what follows "therefore" depends on what came before it. So what is Jesus talking about before verse 25?

    In verses 19-24, Jesus speaks of laying up treasures in heaven rather than on earth, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." He speaks also of our inability to serve both God and greed.

    This is the context of verses 25-34, and those verses can be properly understood only within the context of verses 19-24. If you take the passage by itself, without its proper context, it seems to condone a life of laziness -- hey, don't have a care about the fact that you need clothes or food, and there's no need to work. After all, the birds don't sow, reap, or gather, so why should you?

    Well, maybe birds don't do those things, but birds do build, search for food, and many of them migrate. So perhaps the passage is more than just some endorsement to live for the moment, without any preparation for the future.

    In the context of verses 19-24, the passage is addressing worldliness and materialism. Those who are not believers in Jesus will normally pursue whatever suits their fancy -- even running up enormous debt to satisfy cravings for the latest fashions and haute cuisine. Most of them want and want more and more, and they don't even know why. They must have the latest gadget, or whatever.

    Believers in Jesus are not supposed to be this way. Our treasure is supposed to be in heaven, and we should be doing what God wants us to do rather than pursuing the cares of the world. This doesn't mean we don't work or prepare. In fact, Proverbs 6:6-11 points to the ant as an example to follow of working and preparing for lean times. God had Joseph store up enough food in the seven years of plenty, that there was not only enough for the Egyptians, but there was plenty to sell to foreigners, as well.

    Why would God have Joseph do that if we were supposed to "take no thought" about tomorrow? If you look up the word that is translated there, it involves anxiety -- which, when taken with the context, seems to me to be referring to the obsessive drive to own the latest things, or the obsessive drive to own just more and more and more stuff. Or bigger, better stuff. Keeping up with (or surpassing) the Joneses. Having to have the cool clothes, the cool phone, the home theater, the luxury car with the cat on the hood.

    Like Joseph, Noah was told to prepare. Given the instructions for a giant boat, he built the ark and saved his family and the animals God brought to him.

    I Timothy 5:8 is a rather stern warning to prepare, stating that a believer who does not provide (the word is speaking of providing for in advance -- preparing) for his own family is worse than someone who is not a believer and does not prepare, because he says he's a believer, yet does not prepare.

    In short, please do not rip passages out of the Bible and use them as proof-texts. A little reading, a little thought, and maybe a little study, and it's amazing what misconceptions can be cleared up.

  21. Dear Patrice,

    Thanks for all the great information in your posts.
    This one was particularly interesting to me, due to the rather attractive price you were able to get on your wheat. Inspired by you, I called our nearest Mormon Provident Pantry, which sells to members & non-members alike, and their price was considerably higher than what you got. There could be several reasons for this... prices have simply gone up in the last few years, California Provident Pantries charge more than your area, your friend gets a better deal/goes to a different supplier, etc. My price now stands at $11.45/25 lbs.

    We are wanting to get a bunch of wheat, any ideas on how to get your pricing? Thank you so much!